Have you ever questioned your sanity or doubted your perceptions in the workplace? Have you ever felt that someone deliberately tries to make you question your own version of events by presenting a completely different one? Maybe they even called you “too sensitive” or accused you of overreacting.
If this sounds familiar, maybe you’ve fallen victim to gaslighting. However, knowing you’re not the only one might comfort you. But it's crucial to recognize the signs and understand how to empower yourself against this toxic behavior. So, in this article, we’ll explore what gaslighting at work look like, provide insights into its damaging effects and offer practical solutions to navigate and overcome this challenging situation. So, let’s get to it!
What is Gaslighting at work?
Gaslighting is a form of psychological manipulation whereby an individual or a group seeks to gain power and control over another person by making them doubt their own reality and jugement. In the workplace, gaslighting can occur through various behaviors, including invalidating someone's experiences, denying or trivializing their feelings and distorting facts to create confusion.
Note: if you’re being harassed or gaslighted at your workplace, then here is our workplace harassment guide to help you identify the different types of harassment and how to manage or report it.
Examples of Gaslighting at Work
Recognizing the signs of gaslighting is essential to address the issue effectively. Some common examples of gaslighting at work include:
- Constant Denial: The gaslighter denies their actions or behaviors, making you doubt your perception of events.
- Blaming and Shifting Responsibility: The gaslighter consistently shifts blame onto you, making you feel responsible for their mistakes or shortcomings.
- Downplaying Accomplishments: The gaslighter belittles your achievements, making you question your abilities and worth.
- Manipulative Behavior: The gaslighter uses manipulation tactics like guilt-tripping, intimidation or threats to gain control over you.
- Isolation: The gaslighter attempts to isolate you from your colleagues and support systems, making you feel alone and dependent on them.
Common Gaslighting at Work Phrases
Gaslighters use vocabulary that invalidates your feelings and concerns. This can make you feel small and ineffective. A gaslighter might use phrases such as:
- “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
- “I never said that.”
- “That’s not what happened.”
- “You’re crazy.”
- “You’re misinterpreting everything.”
- “You’re too sensitive.”
- “You’re reading too much into this.”
How to respond to gaslighting at work?
Responding to gaslighting at work can be challenging. Preparing before confronting the situation is essential. Preparing yourself mentally to respond to gaslighting at the moment can help you maintain your composure. It can also help you assert your perspective effectively. Here are some responses you can rehearse and prepare:
- "I understand you have a different perspective, but my experience and feelings are valid."
- "I'm not comfortable with the way you're speaking to me. Please treat me with respect."
- "Let's stick to the facts and avoid personal attacks."
- "I need a break to gather my thoughts and emotions before continuing this conversation."
- "I don't appreciate you questioning my intelligence or sanity. It's inappropriate and unprofessional."
- "I won't engage in this conversation anymore because it's unproductive."
- "If we can't communicate effectively and respectfully, I suggest we involve a neutral third party."
If you want to learn interpersonal skills that benefit your workplace, read our guide on 9 Interpersonal skills employers love that can help you foster and create a friendly environment at your workplace.
How to Destroy Workplace gaslighting?
Empower yourself with these practical strategies to deal with a gaslighter doing gaslighting at work effectively:
- Trust Your Perceptions and Reality
Believe in your experiences and intuition. Gaslighters aim to make you doubt yourself but trust in your abilities and judgement.
- Document Instances of Gaslighting
Record gaslighting incidents, including dates, details and any supporting evidence. This documentation can be valuable if you decide to address the issue formally.
- Seek Support from Trusted Colleagues or a Mentor
Reach out to supportive colleagues or a mentor you trust. Share your experiences and seek their perspective and advice. They can provide validation and guidance during difficult times.
- Establish Boundaries and Assert Yourself
Set clear boundaries with the gaslighter and assertively communicate your expectations. Let them know their behavior is unacceptable, and you will not tolerate being manipulated or undermined.
- Consider Confronting the Gaslighter
If you feel comfortable and safe, consider having a calm, assertive conversation with the gaslighter. Express how their behavior makes you feel and emphasize the importance of respectful and professional communication.
- Consult HR or a Higher Authority
If the gaslighting persists or escalates, involve Human Resources or higher authority within your organization. Moreover, provide them with documented evidence and seek their intervention and support.
- Explore External Job Opportunities
If the gaslighting continues despite your efforts to address it, consider exploring external job opportunities. Your well-being and mental health should always be a priority and sometimes a change of environment can be very beneficial.
- Self-Care and Healing
Dealing with gaslighting can be emotionally draining. Also, practice self-care techniques such as mindfulness, exercise, therapy and hobbies you love to nurture your well-being and aid in the healing process.
Impact of Gaslighting at Work
Gaslighting can severely affect the victim's well-being and overall work performance. Below are some of the side effects of gaslighting you should take note of if your experiencing this at your work place.:
- Emotional Distress: Gaslighting can lead to anxiety, depression, low self-esteem and a constant state of stress. The victim may experience feelings of confusion, self-doubt and emotional instability.
- Reduced Productivity: The constant psychological manipulation and stress caused by gaslighting can significantly impact an individual's productivity and job performance. The victim may struggle to concentrate, make decisions or take risks due to fear of retribution or further manipulation.
- Damaged Professional Reputation: Gaslighting tactics can damage the victim's professional reputation. The gaslighter may spread false rumors or undermine the victim's credibility, making it challenging for them to be recognized for their work thus causing a slow down in career advancement.
- Increased Turnover and Loss of Talent: Gaslighting creates a toxic work environment, leading to high turnover rates and the loss of valuable talent. Employees subjected to gaslighting may leave the organization to escape the abuse, resulting in the loss of expertise which may negatively impact the team morale.
Also, if you think your job offer doesn’t suit your aptitude and want to know the best way to professionally decline it, then read our guide on how to politely decline a job offer.
Gaslighting at work can be incredibly damaging, impacting an individual's well-being, job performance and overall professional growth. By following the tips in this article, you can regain control of your workplace gaslighter. Remember, your experiences and feelings are valid and seeking support is crucial to navigating such challenging situations.
Note: Are you searching for a high paying job that gives you peace of mind? Look no further than Yulys. Yulys, the best job search websites provides a vast range of job opportunities from various verified employers including but not limited to part-time remote jobs, full-time jobs, and remote desktop jobs. So, what are you waiting for? Sign up now to leverage these job opportunities.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Can I Differentiate Between Constructive Criticism And Gaslighting?
Constructive criticism aims to provide feedback for improvement and growth while gaslighting involves manipulation and undermining confidence. Gaslighting is often repetitive, personal and intentionally misleading.
Can Gaslighting Lead To Long-Term Psychological Effects?
Yes, gaslighting can have long-term psychological effects, including anxiety, depression and a loss of self-esteem. It is important to prioritize self-care and seek professional help if needed.
Should I Confront The Gaslighter Directly?
Constructive confrontation can be empowering, however, you have to be careful how the situation is approached as this can sometimes lead to a physical altercation without actually yielding the expected result or desired outcome. Always assess the situation and prioritize your safety first. If confronting the gaslighter puts you at risk or escalates the problem, it may be best to seek support from HR or a trusted supervisor and or Manager.